University Village proposal puts buildings in student parking lots


Jordan Plowman / The Sunflower

Kaye Monk-Morgan speaks about the history of the University Village Proposal and what it means for the Wichita State community.

Three University Village proposal listening sessions took place Wednesday in order to gather public feedback and engagement on the project, which is in the initial stages.  

If the University Village proposal passes, two buildings will be built in the parking lots south of campus on 17th street. When asked about how parking will affect the students, the developers said that it will be a discussion between them and the university.

“Ya that’s a huge concern, parking is just a huge component of any project,” Brandon Buckley, Vice President of LANE 4, said.  “That’s something we’ll meet with the university to talk about, accessing that, we don’t want to push anyone out by any means.  That’s something that we take seriously to minimize the potential negatives from that.”

Both Kaye Monk-Morgan, vice president for engagement and planning, and Rick Muma, president, said that this idea has been talked about for many decades, as far back as 1989.

“The most important thing for me as president is it connects to the community, connects not only to the university community but the existing community around the campus,” Muma said.

The project was formally launched in September 2021.

In 2014, there was an effort created to be intentional about connecting with the Fairmount after a murder took place in the neighborhood.  In 2015, the Shocker Neighborhood Coalition was created to build a healthy and active community south of campus.

 In 2019 and 2020, the University Village concept was born.  A town hall was held in September 2020, and throughout 2021 developers were selected through a competitive process.

The two developers that were selected are LANE 4 and GLMV architecture.

Starting in July 2021, QR codes were posted in 24 different places throughout campus, Shocker neighborhood and Fairmount neighborhood.  The question asked, “If built in your community, what would you support?”

In terms of engagement with the University Village, they have held presentations for faculty senate, US senate and student senate.  They also had meetings with the Fairmount Neighborhood Association, Community Benefits Agreement group and held a Shocker Neighborhood Development Panel in June 2021.

“As a development company, we take really seriously this community engagement and we’ve heard a lot about what the community wants, what the university wants,” Buckley said.

GLMV Architecture was in charge of the development for many locations on Innovation Campus and other locations in Wichita, including NetApp, Partnership Building One, Hyatt Hotel and the new entrance for Sedgwick County Zoo.

The project will include three different phases, with the proposal meeting focus being on phase one, which include two three-story buildings for companies to lease out space.

“We’d really like to tie into the university and present a plan that’s timeless, using real materials, limestone and brick, really important to have a timeless look at the end of the day,” Buckley said. “We want it to look great 50, 60, 70 years down the road.”

Michael Berenbom, Managing Partner of LANE 4, said that there is a real opportunity to achieve some of the community’s desires.

“The opportunity to reach demand that exist, is finding a way to first and foremost financing the project, and by bringing in an anchor use, usually that’s an institutional group one way or another, they could be medically-based, technology based, it could be all sorts of different uses,” Berenbom said. “[In order to] reach the broad spectrum of potential users.

“It allows us to build a first floor retail space, bring some uses that we see as amenities, we’re able to underwrite those rents at a rate that makes sense for mom and pops, cool and unique concepts, it gives us a broader range of potential tenants .”

During the Q&A section, one audience member asked if there would be any development done on the laundromat and bar on 17th St., which will not be a part of the project.

Other comments included suggestions for what should be in the buildings, including mental health centers and a grocery store. Buckley said he will look into and talk to others who have done similar grocery store projects.

“I think that the needed uses have been identified … There are uses that are in demand both from the university and the neighborhood,” Berenbom said.

Berenbom said finding an “anchor” tenant that can drive this type of project will allow them to go find the needed services for the first floor, such as meeting the health needs of the community, food providers or daycare providers.

The developers encouraged people to send ideas and contact information for tenants located in the buildings.  They also said that they plan to release a survey in order to collect opinions from the community.